It’s been known since last November that the Apple Cup would be played on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
That by itself figured to go a long way toward impacting the ability of fans to attend the game, with people having to juggle travel plans with the holiday.
Today came the news of the start time for the game — 12:30 p.m. I’ve already seen the reaction in some circles that this makes the situation even worse by forcing most people from the west side of the state to probably have to travel on Thanksgiving if they are going to attend. Lead KJR-AM Husky Honk Dave “Softy” Mahler, for one, called it “another horrid idea” via Twitter today.
It’s the price to pay for all that new TV money, though.
As we detailed when the move of the game to Friday was announced, every Pac-12 team has to agree to host, on average, two non-Saturday games every three years to allow the conference to provide the needed number of non-Saturday games to its TV partners.
So while asking the Cougars to host the Apple Cup on a Friday, and asking the Huskies to play it on a Friday, is far from ideal, the schools can only protest so much if they want the TV money (which they do).
This is also the price to bear for fans who desire to have their schools play every game on TV and in the most high-profile TV settings possible — this is the growing trend in college football to play games at nights and on weekdays. Coaches feel the visibility helps in recruiting, and as already noted, the money comes in handy, as well.
Still, there’s no way to get around the fact that it’s a real change in routine for those who have been used to attending the Apple Cup on a Saturday, and until 2007, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, making for an uninterrupted holiday.
This is a bigger deal, probably, for WSU, which is out of school during Thanksgiving week. The school had long resisted the idea of playing the game at home on the weekend after Thanksgiving since it could greatly impact the student attendance. But the new TV deal pretty much requires schools to make such concessions now, which was acknowledged in the Pac-12’s press release today of the TV times. Gary Stevenson, the president of Pac-12 Enterprises, said in the release: “Putting our first schedule together required a lot of flexibility and cooperation from all of our schools.”
And since the TV deal runs for 12 years, these are all new facts of life that fans will simply have to accept.
Still, I know that especially for this particular Apple Cup, the start day and time could greatly impact plans to attend.
So I thought I’d throw it out there for a vote in today’s poll. And as always, feel free to state your opinion further in the comments section: